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Soundrop: Single-First Music Distribution for All Music Makers

There is a growing wave of music makers who do not fit the traditional band/artist model. They’re not concerned with an album cover, a release date, high-concept videos, magazine reviews [editor’s note: and why the hell not?!?!], or any of that. They don’t tour, and they don’t give a damn about sales. To them, the game is not so much about crafting a sound or painstakingly going over mixes and bridges; nope, it’s about releasing music as quickly and cheaply as possible. Produce, release, see if it goes viral, repeat. Some are known for releasing a single a day, or more.

These musicians are often found on YouTube with thousands of subscribers, eagerly awaiting the next quirky cover or original recorded on a laptop cam from their living room. Some are also on platforms like SoundCloud or Patreon, producing and releasing mixtapes, EDM features, rough tracks, and more. There are even collectives and small labels focused on niche music, such as unique covers of video game soundtracks or meditation/study music.

Each of those platforms has experienced problems in recent years, pulling catalogs, changing terms, dwindling ad revenue, and more. Listeners are flocking to Spotify, Google Play, Apple Music, Amazon, etc.; so, there is an opportunity to support this community of “single-first” artists.

If you’ve released covers on YouTube, Content ID takes care of all the legal mumbo jumbo, but that doesn’t fly on the major streamers. For those, you’d better know mechanical licensing and what HFA stands for. And if you’re releasing hundreds of songs per year, you can’t possibly pay per track, and maybe don’t want to get into a yearly payment just to keep these tracks online.

Enter Soundrop, a simple digital music distribution platform, geared toward those who release tracks daily or weekly. I spoke with Kevin Breuner (you know him from CD Baby), and Zack “Pony” Domer, the company’s Brand Manager.

PM: There are many music distributors. What role do you see Soundrop fulfilling?

KB: We’re focused on a piece of the market that hasn’t been serviced – creators who release singles right when they finish them. This idea of releasing track after track, you never know what’s going to work, so you need to have the least amount of friction and cost to find out what does work. The EDM market is very single-release oriented. YouTube Creators, many [of them] are artists that can’t tour, [they are] very cover song heavy, of very different ages.

Pony: We wanted to make it a simple and streamlined distribution platform, with no risk upfront, and no long-term commitment.

PM: Who are early adopters of Soundrop?

KB: Mainly a lot of the YouTubers. We migrated the Loudr users, too. Loudr had a great platform, but changed direction. We have expanded the reach broadly to include the gamer market (VGM artists), EDM producers, remixers, and more. Obviously, we serve traditional musician/artists too. We welcome all.

Pony: Soundrop also works very well for collectives and small labels releasing albums with compilations of multiple artists. The songs are tracked directly to the artists; we handle the licensing and rights management if there are covers, and direct all of the split payouts. That makes life easy for them.

PM: Give us the pricing breakdown.

KB: No signup or yearly free. Soundrop takes a 15% admin fee on all sales, but only if you sell. For covers, it’s a flat $9.99 per composition, and that’s it. Simple.

PM: How about your payout policy?

Pony: Once an artist has reached a minimum of $20, we pay through PayPal or mail a check. We are now working on adding monthly reports, as well.

PM: How do you handle collaborators and splits?

KB: As you know, that’s a huge pain point for artists. We’re making it simple. As you upload a track, you list any collaborators and Soundrop then searches out the system. If they are not registered, we email them and setup an account in the system for their direct payment.

PM: How long does it take to get a single live on services?

KB: It varies by store, but usually, one to two days.

Pony: If it’s a cover – or a release that contains covers – it could take a week or so for the licensing, and then one or two days to get to the stores.

PM: How does this work if an artist already is setup from Tunecore? Can they still use you?

KB: We have plenty of Soundrop users who have released through other distro services and there are no issues with you releasing a separate track through us.

Pony: That’s kind of the point. Release and try as much as you want for free, no upfront money, you only pay 15% if you sell.

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